Giving thanks

At the close of a year, it is all together proper and fitting to reflect on that year. And it is right and good to give thanks where thanks is due. This is especially true of this time and place in the year 2017.

As it did from the beginning, in 1971, the Milford Cabinet again in 2017 played a large role in bringing to light the importance of theatre in our community. The Cabinet helped us all to reflect on our theater history this year. Thank you, Cabinet.

The brainstorm of native son, Terry Lorden, the Souhegan Theatre Council was formed and Playhouse 101 came to Milford on June 30, 1971, serving not just Milford, but the Milford-Amherst-Mont Vernon area, and beyond. This was a professional summer theatre. Talented guests from all over graced our stages and community. When the small, always filled to capacity theatre was outgrown in the Parish House at First Congregational Church, ground was broken for the new Souhegan Valley Theatre. This was later known as the American Stage Festival, where the Amato Center is today. It was a big deal for our region and something entirely wonderful. Not only were plays performed there, but the site was a hub for festival activity of all kinds. It was an alive, vibrant, creative time.

The Milford Cabinet covered these happenings then, and all through the lives of the theatres. This is fact. I personally scoured all the old Cabinets at both the Wadleigh and Amherst libraries. And in 2017 the Milford Cabinet covered our efforts to recollect the archives of the two theatres. They printed articles and letters about this. They interviewed us. They made our efforts public. Now at the First Congregational Church Historical Room we house a 13-volume set of archives, including playbills, play scripts, photographs, reviews, clips, and yes, Milford Cabinet articles and press. Also, there’s a treasure trove of additional memorabilia of all sorts, having to do with the two theatres. The collection is open to the public. Thank you, Cabinet.

In 2017 we also had the opportunity to celebrate our theatrical history. Terry Lorden, co-founder and producer, returned for four separate events, speaking at the Milford Historical Society, The First Congregational Church Parish House, the Milford Rotary, and the Amato Center. More than 250 persons attended these events and saw parts of the collection. Some came from as far away as Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as from all over New Hampshire and Massachusetts. And the Milford Cabinet was also there. Thank you, Cabinet.

The Milford Cabinet knows the importance of history. From the beginning, when Bill Rotch was Editor, they knew theatre in the community was something to write about, something to celebrate, and something to reflect upon. Terry Lorden dreamed up the idea, but the Cabinet saw the value of that idea. They still do. And in that way they have helped make it possible, even now. Because they recognize that our history is not just the past. It is the present as well. Thank you, Cabinet. On behalf of myself and for Terry as well, I thank the Cabinet and the community for letting us share such important parts of our history once again. And incidentally, the work is ongoing! Please let us know if you have anything more to add to this fabulous story. 2018 is an entirely new year.